Is it easier to occupy Wall Street than to have a calm policy conversation?


It’s been almost a month into the Occupy Wall Street protests, and all people can really agree on is that a lot of people are pissed for a wide variety of reasons, all of which loosely coalesce around ideas of economic justice and general fairness.  Also, many of them can’t find work.

This phenomenon seems to have created two camps: those who think these guys are idiots or worse, and those who think that they’ve got a good point about some of the stuff they’re saying.  These camps, predictably, aren’t really talking to one another inasmuch as they are simply billboarding their ideas.  Note here and here.

I’m restarting Drink Chat Policy — how do you like them apples?

And who can blame them?  The economy sucks, many people are jobless, and those with jobs are overwhelmingly seeing their incomes drop — eaten up by creeping inflation, coupled with flat wages for the past several years.  Things do not appear to be getting any better, and our political leaders seem to be over-dressed for all the non-work they’re getting done.  My cat has done about as much as the US House of Representatives has in improving our macroeconomic outlook.  …and most of what she does involves sleeping on the couch and grooming herself.

And so we yell, and we occupy, and we try to rally people to our cause, by yelling and rallying.  Two years ago, this was largely the domain of the Tea Party; now the Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have gained some momentum.  Each has (or had) a large goal — limited government vs. economic justice.  Will either outlive the the 2012 presidential race?  My money is on “no”.

And why not?  Because in both cases, you’re trying to effect policy change by grabbing a headline, not by having a conversation with the person sitting next to you, and for headlines to be grabbed in 2013, and 2014, they’ve got to be from some new movement, that again takes the place of what might otherwise be a normal conversation.  And this is because America has no safe place for that conversation to occur, except for in isolated places in the information superhighway.

Places like Drink Chat Policy.

And so I am re-starting DCP, hoping that I can help create a place — virtual, yes, but hopefully eventually a physical one as well — where people can have this conversation without having to wear the costumes of our founding fathers, or to sleep at the front door of a stock exchange.  Our right to protest is important to our democracy, and is enshrined in the 1st amendment, and I hope that protests continue for the rest of my life, but we need something else; something in addition to that right.  We need to be able to sit down with someone we disagree with, have a drink, and talk about our ideas for how our worst, most frustrating problems might be solved.

If we do that, we may even surprise ourselves and solve a few — maybe completely by accident. 🙂

Best Wishes,